A very puzzling pair of would-be pre-war French bombers

Stargazer2006

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Although I was pretty sure this had been discussed on the forum before, I've searched many topics over the past couple of hours but found nothing... So I'm posting it here, hoping it doesn't duplicate anything (and if it does, by all means please show me where it was so the two can be merged).

A few years ago, in 2010 precisely, a Belgian forum posted the photo below, asking if anyone could identify the two mysterious French bombers in it.
The Aviation Forum also started a topic on the subject, as well as the Aerostories forum.
Unfortunately, only one of the links I had to these online topics seem to work nowadays, and no valuable input has been posted there for years:
https://forum.keypublishing.com/showthread.php?102619-Weird-French-Bomber-I-D

Sadly, the discussions in these old pages are lost. Trying to work from what is left and from a close analysis of the image, here is what we have:
  • A pair of would-be French aircraft. Although it is claimed that these are French types (and they certainly look so), there is no solid evidence of this.
  • A photo likely taken during World War II. The presence of the Junkers trimotor in the background certainly points in that direction (some even suggested that this was not a Ju 52/3m with cover on the cockpit, but rather a Caproni type. I have my doubts, but it still would make them European types).
  • A pair of combat types. These feature a single huge turret on top, right between the wing and the cockpit, but apparently no possibility to shoot up and down, or rear, since the wing's root is right behind it. Some have argued that the turrets were only mockup, perhaps as a decoy. But if an actual type, it could shoot only forward, which doesn't seem to make it a very practical design. Moreover, there is no evidence of any other turret or provision for guns, although one may wonder if the small rectangular opening on the side may not have enabled soldiers to shoot.
  • Armored types. One can see what seems to be armored parts on the forward sides of the aircraft. It seems unlikely that ground-based decoys would be so elaborate in their construction, as these two aircraft clearly are.
  • High wing. The very thick wing is mounted above the fuselage. The little stub at the bottom of the side suggests the place where the strut was attached, or to be attached.
  • Twin-tailed design. The twin-tail types were common in French design philosophy, but not so much so on large combat types.
  • Deep fuselage with rounded bottom. This particular feature suggests these could have started their lives as transports. The thickness of the wing root no doubt indicates an aircraft meant to carry heavy loads or heavy armament (apparently much thicker than any existing transport of the day, more like bombers), and most likely a four-engine type.
  • Hinged side doors. These suggest a transport for rapid loading/unloading of troops.
  • Unfinished or dismantled. The rear covering of the fuselage is missing, either because it wasn't completed or because it was partially torn. Although the structure of both the fuselage and wing root seem in very good condition, the armored panels (likely once painted) seem to have suffered some wear and tear.

Among the suggestions for the identity of these aircraft, some people suggested Farman 223 or Potez 54 derivatives (though I think it reminds much more of the Potez 65); others claimed this to be a Dyle & Bacalan or S.A.B. type (though it looks nowhere near any of the types built by that firm). Although many types share a few commonalities with them, none is close enough to be a match.

Now if these were actually decoys, as some have suggested, why bother to give them armored covering and an elaborate structure?
And if they were mockups for a possible armed version of a transport, why build two? And why does this look like no existing transport we know of?

My personal hunch is for an assault type, capable of transporting troops and shooting forward, with provision for gunners to shoot from the sides.
Though I'm no engineer, I also have the impression that the very deep wing and double tail are there to help the aircraft in rapid descent or climb.
Also, what if it was actually something that a French manufacturer was ordered to build for Germany? In some cases the French made the work linger on and on, in a kind of desperate sabotage effort. Was that one of them? As for the manufacturer... it's anyone's guess, really. I'd go for Potez myself, perhaps Bloch or Bréguet, but really it could be anything... IF it's a French type, which of course remains to be seen.

So here's the photo, anyway. I have also done a drawing of the aircraft, tracing the photo as closely as I could, though of course some of it is always subject to interpretation (especially considering the elements lying on the grass around the aircraft, which can be mistaken for protruding parts of it). Each later revision of the drawing will lead to the removal of the previous one, so you'll find the latest version towards the end of the topic.

Any of your thoughts, suggestions, hypotheses or constructive criticism are warmly welcome!
 

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GTX

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This is a confusing one I think in part because it shows traits of multiple Pre-war French types such as:

Farman NC. 223:

farman-nc-233.gif

271fe841e097598ad8ea94a5aac89c50.png


Potez 650:

potez65-1.gif

Potez_31.jpg


The SAB AB-80 also does have some features - notably the tail:

ab80-1.gif

ab80-2.jpg


I have see a couple of theories put forward including:

  • The shown aircraft are mockups perhaps assembled from a few different types
  • The shown aircraft are an unknown variant of something such as the Potez 650 series - perhaps a prototype of turret armed "battle plane" variant
  • Something altogether different - including possibly not even French
 

Michel Van

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This is very unusual Design

it got high wings, while 1930s french combat aircraft have low wings or mid wing
but intriguing are two feature

One: it square-section fuselage looks like of Transport aircraft or glider
Two: were is the landing gear ? could it using skids ?

That is not a Amphibian aircraft, i guess from the form and Weapons
This could be a Heavy assault glider with Guns, that attack it target on landing zone, before landing.
 

Archibald

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The turret looks like a miniature Bretagne-class battleship. Weird aircraft, really.

A photo likely taken during World War II. The presence of the Junkers trimotor in the background certainly points in that direction (some even suggested that this was not a Ju 52/3m with cover on the cockpit, but rather a Caproni type. I have my doubts, but it still would make them European types).

Might be a Dewoitine D-332 or 338.

Try the internet archive for your dead links. https://archive.org/
 

CJGibson

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Reminds me of this:

https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,3537.msg315207.html#msg315207

Reply 19

Chris
 

Silencer1

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Hello!

Another French "monster" - Loire 30, with truly giant nose turret.

Source: Aviation Magazine.
 

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Michel Van

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Archibald said:
The turret looks like a miniature Bretagne-class battleship. Weird aircraft, really.

(background plane) Might be a Dewoitine D-332 or 338.

Nope those have long nose to long on Picture also not Ju-52
640px-Avion_d.338_trimoteur_commercial_en_vol.jpg


That look more like a Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero
Savoia_Marchetti_SM.79_I-BISE.png


now if that IS a SM.79 Sparviero give that Another question: were visit Italians France during WW2 ?
because that could give indication were the two were build North or South France
 

Hood

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This is an intriguing mystery.

The forward fuselage does indeed seem very reminiscent of the Potez 65 series but none of those had twin tails. The tail looks reminiscent of the Farman NC.220 series.

However, my eye is more drawn to the wing root. Note it is a very thick wing with a constant section across the top of the fuselage and the top of the fuselage ahead and behind of the wing is below the wing. This is not the case for the Potez 65 or Farman NC.223, which have wings that stop at the side of the fuselageFor example look at the much thinner wing root of the Potez 65 seen here:
Gpotez65-index.jpg


However, given the location of the gun turret and its ability to traverse at least 180 degrees the engines must have been in a lower position like the Potez 35 and Farman NC.220 series.

The Potez 54 looked possible but its cockpit and fuselage window layout is vastly different and of course has a single tail like its civil 61/65 development.

The SAB AB-80 doesn't look like a close enough match. But looking at other Société Aérienne Bordelaise aircraft I noticed the SAB AB-22, the sole AB-20 converted in 1934 with a 75mm gun firing sideways (not sure where it was mounted). Now this is obviously not an AB-22 but it shows that the concept of a heavy sideways firing armament was looked at in the mid-1930s.
The company also built the Lorraine-Hanriot LH.70 as the SAB LH.70, this had a thick profile wing and two were built but again does not match the aircraft pictured.

The other trouble is that all these are early/mid- 1930s types, would they really have escaped the scrapman for almost 5 years and lasted until 1940-42 even in a static park in AdL colours?
 

Michel Van

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I begin to doubt if this is a french Aircraft

we got a Italian Aircraft in background probable a SM.79 Sparviero

looking on the tail unit of the unknown Aircraft,
can it be that is not French marking, but the Italian Royal Air Force one ?
and feature the Fascists Italian Fasces ?
 

Silencer1

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Hello, Hood!
Hood said:
However, my eye is more drawn to the wing root. Note it is a very thick wing with a constant section across the top of the fuselage and the top of the fuselage ahead and behind of the wing is below the wing.

Nice detail!

With such relatively thick wing we could assume, that this was cantilever high-wing monoplane.


Top turret with 3 guns looks a bit strange for me: I couldn't find any holes for vertical inclination of the guns.
I has impression, that they have been fixed.
And, of course, the whole aircraft is a mystery. I couldn't imagine France' offensive operations in pre-WWII time and dedicated aicraft for such missions. If such palns/projects exists the giant turret looks unlike any other aircraft in the world.
 

Mark Nankivil

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I believe that is a Ju52-3m in the background - clearly visible are the bookshelf ailerons which the SM.79 did not have.

Fascinating image! Mark
 

Hood

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The aircraft in the background is not a SM.79 Sparviero. Just look at the drooped aileron/flaps, a classic Ju 52 feature. You can even see the double 'bumps' on top of the nacelles for the fuel flow meter. Again a typical Ju 52 feature.

I agree with Silencer1 that those guns (perhaps 20mm Hispano-Suiza HS.9?) are fixed, there doesn't look to be any elevation slits, nor any visible provision for sighting for a gunner. I'm not even sure there would be room for a gunner/reloader in that turret given how far back the breeches must be.
I wonder if this was an extension of the SAB A.B-22 fixed 75mm experiment as a flying gunship for Army support?
 

Michel Van

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Mark Nankivil, your right That's is a Ju52-3m
There is on fuselage clearly a dent to see, that and the bookshelf ailerons show that's a Ju52-3M

I was wrong on SM.79 Sparviero, I'm sorry about that mistake...
 

galgot

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The rudders shows signs of souvenir hunters, with the usual french type and nmr being cut out off the fabric. Would suggest a picture taken in 1940 , after the defeat, by german soldier like the one the right on the picture. Lots of airfields had wrecks of all types, often with insignias cut out "to bring back home".
Like a lot of Lufwaffe wrecks had the swastika cut out off the rudder as souvenirs in 1945.
 

Avimimus

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While I like the ground attack or even troop delivery theory... I thought I'd offer a word of caution:

There are many cases in the interwar years of designers over-estimating the accuracy of turrets, and under-estimating the importance of speed - so an air-to-air role can't be easily ruled out. Note for instance, that a fighter version of the Tupolev TB-3 with three fixed 76mm cannons was planned for attack enemy bomber formations...!
 

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I don't think it's a transport at all. I can't see any sign of a hinged door in the photograph.
 

sienar

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Silencer1 said:
Hello!

Another French "monster" - Loire 30, with truly giant nose turret.

Source: Aviation Magazine.

Very similar turret, it it was a turret in this case...
 

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Kdmoo

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I still like my original post in the Flypast thread that this could possibly be in the SNCAO CA-600 family. B)

Those sure look like French Navy markings on the tail.

Best,
Kevin
 

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TomcatViP

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Turret fighter. I think there is some report in an old Fana de l'aviation magazine.
 

retrofit1

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TomcatViP said:
Turret fighter. I think there is some report in an old Fana de l'aviation magazine.
Should be:
"Antoine de Boysson et la SAMM" by Jean Cuny
Fana de l'aviation n°209 to 211 (April to June 1987)
Hystory of SAMM (Société d'Application des Machines Motrices) machine gun - gun turrets/support (then servo-control) since 1930.
But no clue concerning this particular aircraft.
Just a drawing of the "AB-72" 4 x machine guns turret which seems smaller than the one on the photo.
 

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starviking

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TomcatViP said:
Turret fighter. I think there is some report in an old Fana de l'aviation magazine.

That’s what I thought too, but on looking more closely, the “turret” seems to have a square cross-section, with beveled corners - matching the structure supporting it from beneath. I can’t see any indication of rotation guide rails, and if the guns can elevate or depress they do not do so using guide rails either. Even if the turret does have some incredibly flush rotation line, the square cross-section is going to lead to unnecessary, possibly dangerous turbulence.

I agree with Kdmoo that it looks related to the SNCAO CA-600, but the gun-enclosure seems more suited to a bomber-destroyer of some sort.
 

Silencer1

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Hello!

It's so simple: that's frist French-built gunship helicopter!
Sad, that April, 1st is only once a year :cool:

P.S. This is joke. The overall design reminds me first US helicopters, like Platt-LePage and McDonell, with lateral placed rotors.
 

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galgot

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Seems to me the 3 barrels from the machine-guns (if that’s what they are) are off centered from the turret center. That is if they are pointing 90° to left, which seems to be the case looking at the shadows. from above, something like this :
WTF-001.jpg

They look small caliber too.

Maybe a flying Maginot line project :D
 

Schneiderman

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I agree with starviking that the 'turret' does not appear to be cylindrical
 

martinbayer

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A related discussion is at https://forum.keypublishing.com/showthread.php?102619-Weird-French-Bomber-I-D&s=abdba0e95e16bb42c7ea8ff409480494.

Martin
 

Stargazer2006

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martinbayer said:
A related discussion is at https://forum.keypublishing.com/showthread.php?102619-Weird-French-Bomber-I-D&s=abdba0e95e16bb42c7ea8ff409480494.

Did you read my initial post? The link was there all along.
 

martinbayer

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Skyblazer said:
martinbayer said:
A related discussion is at https://forum.keypublishing.com/showthread.php?102619-Weird-French-Bomber-I-D&s=abdba0e95e16bb42c7ea8ff409480494.

Did you read my initial post? The link was there all along.

Sorry, I missed that - my apologies.

Martin
 

starviking

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Orbiting gunship?

Hold on a second: an aircraft with armored glass cockpit, and guns firing sideways? Could this be an attempted application of the orbiting gunship principle?
 

Hood

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Some more thoughts from me on the wingroot.

The closest possible match for the overall fuselage and tailplane shape was the Farman F.223.3 but I'm not sure the wingroot matches. From a grainy image I found of the Farman production line, the centre section consists of two I-beam spars integral with the centre fuselage section, which are missing here (with no evidence of them being cut off etc.).
The aircraft seems to have a rather dated lattice structure with four attachment points for the outer wing sections.

It is not the Bloch M.B.200, the wing structure and wing root doesn't match either.

I don't think the SNCAO CA-600 is a realistic match either. It was a brand new aircraft in 1940 and of different construction and overall shape and the two prototypes were different and only one of them completed and certainly no time to make such drastic changes before the Fall of France.

I am convinced that what we are looking at is an early 1930s design, probably no later than 1934/35. It seems odd if it was a one-off prototype type that two were built and both modified to the same standard. This suggests perhaps conversions from an existing type.

The original Key Publishing thread mentioned a possibility of Belgium being the location, this seems unlikely to me if the aircraft is indeed French (why would the Germans drag two old hulks to Belgium?). Its unlikely to be Belgian, I don't think they operated anything this large and if they did, a conversion like this would be odd.
 

lark

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The first info about this aircraft appeared in the French magazine 'AeroJournal' issue 18 -2010.
Photo was take at the airfield at Chiévres - Belgium.

This air base was erected by Germany in 1940-41 as a Luftwaffe depot for aircraft wrecks
brought down in Belgium and Northern France.

I ,personally, am not sure that the construction behind the cockpit is a aircraft gunturret.(gunnersview?)

As soon as I have located the concerning issue I'll try to tell more.
 

avion ancien

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I suspect that whoever was responsible for constructing whatever this is now is looking down and laughing at the lot of us here who are wrinkling our brows over it! :)
 

Michel Van

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since most French ww2 War planes are low wing design
but this a High wing design, Berguet/SNCAC and Farman build preferred High Wings
were there others companies that build french high wing aircrafts in 1930s?
 

Stargazer2006

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lark said:
The first info about this aircraft appeared in the French magazine 'AeroJournal' issue 19 -2010.
Photo was take at the airfield at Chiévres - Belgium.

This air base was erected by Germany in 1940-41 as a Luftwaffe depot for aircraft wrecks
brought down in Belgium and Northern France.

I ,personally, am not sure that the construction behind the cockpit is a aircraft gunturret.(gunnersview?)

As soon as I have located the concerning issue I'll try to tell more.

Great info, Paul, thanks a LOT! Reading you, I remember it all now, but at that time I'd only read the Belgian forum's page, not saved it.

Kdmoo said:
I still like my original post in the Flypast thread that this could possibly be in the SNCAO CA-600 family. B)
Those sure look like French Navy markings on the tail.

They definitely do! Actually, my hunch from looking at the picture closely (and I really did, believe me!) was that there were elements in that aircraft which made me think of something naval. I even thought of a flying boat at some point, but there doesn't seem to be a stepped hull underneath. But the sides of the aircraft are definitely reminiscent of some flying boats.

What is certain now is that these were pre-1939 French aircraft confiscated by Germany in occupied France, so that automatically excludes anything built in the southern part of France (see attached map for exact separation). As Belgium and the French Flanders area were administered together, it makes it very likely that the two aircraft were built in the north, which therefore automatically rules out something from the Toulouse or Marseille areas.

Most likely candidate? The Société nationale des constructions aéronautiques du Nord (SNCAN), which was created in 1936 as a nationalized conglomerate of military aircraft manufacturers Potez (Méaulte, in the Somme), Amiot (Caudebec-en-Caux) and Bréguet (Le Havre) (all three in eastern Normandy), and also CAMS (Sartrouville) and A.N.F. Les Mureaux (Les Mureaux) (in the western suburbs of Paris). Interestingly, we already commented on how the front end reminds of the Potez 65, and Potez happens to be the most likely candidate, being the closest to the Belgium/Flanders region.

It is worth noting that given the agglomeration of all those companies into state-controlled entities, some level of synergy between them might have led to new aircraft borrowing elements from one another (say, fuselage design a la Potez, fuselage structure a la CAMS), making it more difficult to trace one particular "house style" to the design. However, no aircraft were labeled "SNCAN" as such, and they continued to be called Potez, Bréguet, etc.

Of course, the SNCAO (Société nationale des constructions aéronautiques de l'Ouest) connection cannot be excluded, especially since Loire-Nieuport had facilities both on the seaside at Saint-Nazaire AND at Issy-les-Moulineaux, just outside Paris (while the Bréguet part of it was in Bouguennais, on the seaside too, not far from Saint-Nazaire). By 1941, SNCAO had become part of SNCASO (based in Bordeaux and Rochefort), which also fell under German control. Besides, it is worth noticing that not all CAO designations, used from 1937 on, are accounted for yet. I'm currently investigating this particular lead.

On the question of the gunner's view (IF this was a manned turret) I am still unsure whether there may not be a lot of grime covering what could be glazed parts. But what makes me doubt this is the fact that even with a lot of dirt, you could still see the girders that make up the structure, and there are none here.
 

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Archibald

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Hey folks ! I have the beginning of an answer about this bizarre thing.

https://forum.keypublishing.com/archive/index.php/t-102619.html

An interesting suggestion on here (in French) posted by Marc_91:

http://www.39-45.org/viewtopic.php?f=65&p=289275

In English, translated by Google:

If I am not mistaken, this is fuselages AB SAB-80 (Air Bordelaise Company...[which]...was quickly incorporated to SNCASO 1936), captured by the Germans at the Chantiers de Bacalan or in hangars Bordeaux-Merignac ...

When their presence in Belgium, and the construction of a fake nose and fake turret, I think it is a "coup d'brainwashing" of the Luftwaffe, the same type He-100/He-113 or the Bf-209 during the Battle of France, or the Fw-198 on the basis of the De Schelde S.21 during the Battle of Britain.

Finally, the fact that these carcasses were not melted down to be recycled makes me suppose that this photo was taken in 1940, 41 or early 1942 at the latest.

Interesting thought....

https://www.caea.info/fr/?option=com_content&view=article&id=320:sab-ab-80&catid=47:maquettes
(see my signature - the CAEA !)

maqab80.jpg


More later

https://www.google.com/search?q=%22S.A.B%22%22AB-80%22&client=firefox-b&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=5uTqn0A7UQocSM%253A%252Ck5HZj75WPI7JxM%252C_&usg=__LwJJEE6CFY2HUo6iDLW5xKXlCIY%3D&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjxtKXojY3bAhWLuBQKHR6LCMYQ9QEIPDAD#imgrc=_

About a possible gun turret: if it is really a S.A.B (Société Aéronautique de Baccalan) then look at what Aviafrance says about its elder brothers, other S.A.B

https://www.aviafrance.com/aviafrance1.php?ID=4970&ID_CONSTRUCTEUR=1127&ANNEE=0&ID_MISSION=0&MOTCLEF=

Avion quintuplace expérimental équipé d'un canon de 75 tirant latéralement. Premier vol en août 1934. 1 seul exemplaire construit le S.A.B. AB-20 modifié. Les essais de tir en vol eurent lieu en septembre 1934 à Cazaux. Après le départ de cinq obus, le tir dut être interrompu, l'onde de bouche ayant arraché une partie du revêtement de l'intrados de l'aile.

The freakkin' plane had a Canon de 75 ! :eek:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canon_de_75_mod%C3%A8le_1897

"experimental 5-crew aircraft with a 75' gun firing laterally. First flight in august 1934. Only one build a modified AB-20. Gun firings were made in Cazaux (near Bordeaux) in september. After five shot, firing stoped as the gun blast had blown away the wing intrados"

What.the.heck.was.that.aircraft. ??!!! :eek:
 

Archibald

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If that's really a modified AB-80, then from the wooden mockup above, it can be seen that the long, glazed canopy could have been cut, and replaced by the massive turret and the (obviously fake) cockpit.
Maybe it had a touch of myth and legend with it: since the AB-22 got a 1897 gun and actually fired it, maybe this was created as a fake "l'avion canon"
 

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Thanks Archibald for advancing the subject further!

I totally agree about the cockpit looking fake. The way that the windows extend above and beyond the sides makes little sense.
Plus if you look at the other aircraft, you can see that it seems to be moving even further from the fuselage, so this makes the aircraft subject to caution.

If these are indeed AB.80 types, then the fuselage was so heavily modified that it seems improbable to have done that just for a propaganda effort... but who knows? Another possibility could be that the AB.80 might have been modified under SAB's new management (as part of Potez-Bloch from 1935) as transports, which could explain the Potez nose and deep fuselage. These aircraft (whether finished or not) would then have been captured by the Germans and given the fake turrets.

After trying to come up with various possible wings/angles/engines for that beast, one thing is for sure: the turret doesn't make much sense. Even if it could only swivel to the sides and front, it would be impossible to shoot with the engines on the wings. You'd have to have engines way below, or way above on pylons... and even then it would be very difficult for the turret to stay clear of the propeller!

Studying the photo still further, I realize that there DOES indeed seem to be some glazing on the turret (something I wasn't quite sure of yet). I'm attaching a revised version of my traced drawing (always provisional of course).
 

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Stargazer2006

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Archibald said:
Maybe it had a touch of myth and legend with it: since the AB-22 got a 1897 gun and actually fired it, maybe this was created as a fake "l'avion canon"

Thanks also for reminding us of the AB-22, which hadn't been mentioned here previously. Here's a passage from a French article I've translated. It's interesting because it combined both a Dyle & Bacalan type and a 75 cannon!

After returning to Mérignac in April 1932, the first "flying fortress" [the AB-20] was modified into a "cannon aircraft" by the addition of a 75 cannon trunkated by half its length. It was fitted on a pivoting structure using a ball system, emerging through a wide porthole on the port side of the aircraft so as to shoot through the two wing struts.

Who could imagine such a concept, reminiscent of a naval galleon of old?

Thus modified, the aircraft was redesignated the AB-22, and after a few flights at Mérignac, il flew off for more testing at the ordnance test center in Cazaux. On September 19, 1934, Charles Descamps shot five shells, but each time some panels would come off from the wing's intrados. The AB-22 did some more flight testing without shooting the cannon, and was eventually written off in 1935.
Source: http://www.passionpourlaviation.fr/2016/03/17/sab-ab21/

This certainly proves that Dyle & Bacalan (and possibly SAB after it) was trying to explore the fitting of cannons onto aircraft.
Also of interest is the fact that the reinforced panels in the photo, which I believed were for armoring, could also have been reinforcement of the structure to compensate the vibrations caused by the cannon. Well, as I've said (and I think we all agree here), this is only speculation, but all this brainstorming advances the discussion and the exchange enables more ideas to emerge, which is good! :)
 

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I'm not sure that there is glazing on the 'turret'. It is interesting to note that the second copy to the side does not have the 'turret' though.

My money is more still on a development of the Potez 65 family based upon the fuselage shape, 'ribbing' on side and even rough cockpit shape. Possibly a "Battle Plane" variant mockup. It could also be that the twin tails were necessary to deal with the change in air flow from the turret.
 

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galgot said:
Seems to me the 3 barrels from the machine-guns (if that’s what they are) are off centered from the turret center. That is if they are pointing 90° to left, which seems to be the case looking at the shadows. from above, something like this :
WTF-001.jpg

They look small caliber too.

Maybe a flying Maginot line project :D

I suspect the 'off centre' aspect might be accounted for by their being actually at an angle to the viewing point and not actually 90° to the fuselage.
 

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The goal was to have this thing shooting at bomber formation after closing on them. This defense strategy was tested also in the US and UK. The 75mm caliber was just the sign of the total absence of any modern higher caliber canon with high rate in France. That the German got interested in this shouldn't come as a surprise since this was part of systematic evaluation of all sized material in occupied territories and was also part of the German defenses system against bomber formations.

Remind that all this came BEFORE the flows of UK and US bombers over Germany that would prove that nothing was better at it than fighters.
 

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